Posted in faith

Coffee With God?

Tina Friesen Photography
Tina Friesen Photography

This morning my mind was going a million miles a minute and I thought about the verse that talks about ‘taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.’ I envisioned all my thoughts coming at me like so many airplanes flying into an airport and I had to take each one and say, you go there, you wait, you circle around, you don’t belong here.

I was praying about “social graces.” I was wondering about the gaps in my life, things I don’t know about myself, my deficiencies. And I wondered, what are the things about me that everybody around me notices, but I am unaware of them—like bad breath. We all hate to be the person with bad breath, or obnoxious manners. These are simple things we could possibly change without much effort if we only knew about them. 

I have some friends who will tell me if I have something between my teeth. Others are embarrassed or don’t want to make me uncomfortable. I would rather be uncomfortable for a moment than go home and look in the mirror and think of all the people that saw me with food between my teeth.

So I was going on a rant, and I really don’t believe in going on a rant. I think it’s selfish and childish. So I was being a bit selfish and childish for a moment, because I am sometimes not very mature. I really don’t have a full grasp on stuff.

I was telling God that I know that we are instructed in the Bible to ask, seek, and knock if we need something. I’ve been doing a lot of asking and seeking and knocking, I told God. An awful lot of it. And an awful lot of waiting in between. Why do I have to ask and seek and knock so much? And why does it take so long to get answers?

What kind of a God makes his people ask for days and weeks, and keep on knocking and seeking without answers? Is he the kind of God who withholds from us because he can, because we are so puny we don’t deserve his immediate attention? Or is there some kind of lesson we need to learn by waiting?

I had two specific pictures in mind. When we lived in the Philippines I needed to order some furniture from a woman who ran a rattan business. I waited and waited outside of her house, until, about half an hour after I arrived, she came outside with her wet hair in a towel. Needless to say, I was not impressed. Is God like that? He has more important things to do?

Another picture was of a man I worked alongside who was watching me paint a barn. I think I was using a step ladder and after a few hours he suggested I get a longer handle for my brush. I thought, that would save me a lot of time. Why didn’t he tell me sooner? In fact I asked him, and he basically told me he was waiting to see if I would think of it myself. This ticked me off.

Is God like that?

I know I sound like Job, only much worse, because he was a righteous man, and he was truly suffering. My case is very negligible in comparison. But God’s response, when he finally replied to Job’s accusations, was, “Where were you when….?”

In other words, I have always felt that he put Job in his place, quite nicely. A bit of sarcasm there, I admit.

It’s just if God is the God of the universes, loves us, hears all of our words and knows our thoughts before we even think them, then why does he consider it important to delay his response?

This is the answer I got.

Go to a particular Starbucks. Sit there and have a coffee.

 

 

Tina Friesen Photography
Tina Friesen Photography

“But when do I do this? I need to make a plan. Do you expect me to do this before work, because I really don’t think I would have time. It is a very long drive. I don’t even know where it is on the map, whether it’s on this side or that side of the water. Do you want me to go after work? Do you want me to go today, or just sometime? What am I supposed to do there? Wait for someone to come and talk to me and tell me, “God told me to tell you….” I mean that would be pretty amazing. I’m probably just supposed to sit there quietly, drink my coffee, make some observations and leave.”

“I want you to set aside time for me. The answers will flow out of that. I want you to plan time to listen. The answers will flow out of that. You think I can just drop everything and attend to you, but no. I am making plans. Plans take time to work out. So if you spend time with me, you will get the picture. And you won’t be asking so many questions. You won’t be doing so much seeking and knocking. You have to ask and seek and knock because you are not there. You haven’t got an in. If you spend time with me, you will become calmer, more assured. You will ask less, knock less, seek less. Set some time aside for coffee with me.”

Tina Friesen Photography
Tina Friesen Photography

Ok. God. Thank you for pointing out the stuff between my teeth. And thank you that there is hope for me. Thank you that you still want to have coffee with me. I am so looking forward to it. And I want to spend some time thinking about, “Where were you when….?”

Posted in Uncategorized

Remembering

I’ve been thinking about life, lately. The significance of life. Why are we here? What are we meant to accomplish?

There are many different world views and mine happens to be Christian. It is the framework within which life makes the most sense to me. To me life makes most sense when I consider that there is one God, the creator of the universe, a God of infinite wisdom and goodness.

If I believed in an unpredictable, vindictive God or gods I would live my life in fear and uncertainty. But, I believe in a God of love and forgiveness. For me this is particularly significant on Remembrance Day or Veterans Day.

We will never get away from war. The reason is that there will always be selfishness, evil, hatred, and a struggle for power on this earth. Still, I find it unthinkable that nations actually sanction the mass killing of people of other nations.

I know all the arguments for war–the need to crush evil, to preserve our freedom, to protect our loved ones–but the majority of the people who suffer from war are innocent people who simply want to go on with their daily lives in peace.

So, as I reflect on the meaning of life, I think that this is precisely what God wants from us–to go on peacefully with our daily lives, doing our necessary tasks, caring for our families, loving our neighbours.

My deepest gratitude to those who have sacrificed in order to make life better for the rest of us. God bless you!

 photo source unknown
photo source unknown
Posted in Marriage & Family

Is your child on your team?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The secret to good parenting is to have your children on your team. It is not a good feeling to know that your children are on the opposing team.

So how do you get your children to be on your team? Do you bribe them with candy, to do what you want them to do? Do you spank them if they disobey you?

There is a place for rewards and punishments, but in order to get your children to be on your team they will need to understand what it is you want and agree with you that it is good and important. You achieve this through a process called training.

But before a child can be trained, a parent must be trained. First ask yourself this question:

Do I believe that my child and I can be on the same team?

I honestly think some parents don’t want their child to be on their team. They would rather think of themselves as on their own team, fighting against the child. They entertain thoughts like, “My child is against me.” “My child always misbehaves.” “My kid is a brat.” And they like to talk to other parents about their children this way. It’s a kind of mommy gossip where they talk about how terrible their kids are and how miserable it is to be a parent.

You are never going to get your kids on your team that way.

Rule number ONE for getting your kids on your team is never to say a bad thing about your kids again to another parent, unless, of course, that parent is in a position to give you some very helpful advice that you intend to follow.

In order to get your child on your team he or she has to understand what is important to you and why it should be important to him or her as well. I’ll give you an example.

Christmas is nearing and some parents don’t put up a tree because their kids are going to destroy it. They have this expectation, so I agree that is what would probably happen. But you can train your children so that you have a totally different expectation. I set up a tree every year, even when our children were very little. We may have had one or two ornaments that were broken by accident, but our kids never trashed our tree. When the tree was up, before they were old enough to help me, I would take them over to the tree immediately and talk about how beautiful it was. Then I would ask if they would like to touch the ornaments, or hold them. I said they had to be careful with them, or they would break. After that they would sometimes carefully touch the ornaments and if they did, I simply agreed that they were very pretty.

Rule number TWO is don’t expect your kids to be bad. Expect them to pick up on your values. Kids have a way of living up to their parents’ prophetic words.

How do you get your children to obey you? The best way to get your children to obey you is by fostering what I call “intrinsic motivation.” It’s not a new term I came up with, but it means that they are motivated from inside. They want to obey you because they love you and they know it will make you happy. They don’t need a reward in order to do what you tell them to.

Mommy and son or daughter work together. Mommy and Daddy use phrases like, “Let’s clean up your toys. Let’s go get baby’s pampers. Let’s set the table.” Especially when children are young, it is their greatest pleasure to do things with their parents. The more “together” activities you can do the better. You work together harmoniously because you are a team. You never say, “You are a bad boy, or girl.” You just don’t say that to someone on your team. You might say, “That wasn’t a very  nice thing to do. Do you think baby liked that? Would you like it if someone did that to you? What do you think that feels like? I think baby would like it if we did this. Let’s do this with baby. This is fun. Let’s have fun with baby. Look how much fun baby is having. You are having so much fun with baby.” This develops intrinsic motivation. The child becomes motivated to have fun with baby, because he enjoys it and it makes everybody happy.

There are other ways you teach this. “Isn’t it fun to help Daddy? Do you think Daddy will like this surprise? What can we do to cheer up your brother?” You are teaching them to think about making a contribution that will bring joy to someone else.

Statements like “Don’t do that! I told you not to do that! Why don’t you listen to me?” show that the parent thinks he or she and the child are on different teams. When someone is on your team you say, instead, “We don’t do that. That’s not nice. Now I want you to give your brother a hug. That’s better.”

Rule number THREE is don’t make your child look for praise. If you say, “You are a good girl” that shows you still think of your child as not on your team, because you have to pin the medal on her. You can say things like, “That was very kind of you.” “You did that really well.” “That makes Mommy happy.” Then instead of trying to figure out what a good girl is, she just tries to be kind, to do a job well, and to make Mommy happy.

A lot of parents are very insecure about parenting and feel like they are out of control. Having the attitude that you can be on the same team takes the tension out of parenting. You are working with your child toward a common goal. You want to have a happy home. You want to be a happy family. It is not your child’s responsibility to create this happy home, however. You are the one who has to figure out how to do this. There are plenty of parents with success stories. You can have one too.